It finally happened. After a year of metropolitan courting, corporate teasing, and good, old-fashioned drama, Amazon has officially announced the locations for its split HQ2—and neither half will be in Dallas.
At a press conference following news of the loss, Mayor Mike Rawlings said that members of the Amazon search team told him that Dallas lost out on HQ2 for two main reasons: Amazon wanted to be on the East Coast in the first place, and though Dallas’ talent pipeline looked good, Amazon wanted an immediate supply of talent in addition to potential for future talent. A supply, the Amazon team said, it found in Crystal City and Long Island.
Though for many in Dallas-Fort Worth, this is a tough loss, others see a silver lining, knowing that for all its boons, an Amazon HQ2 would have brought significant challenges to the market, such as infrastructure strain and a higher cost of living.
“I like to win, so my heart’s broken today. But I will tell you, we are leaps and bounds better, as a city, because we went through this,” Rawlings said during the press conference.
The good news is that DFW doesn’t need Amazon to keep growing.
President and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber Dale Petroskey said that though the snub stings, it does not diminish the brightness of Dallas’ future prospects.
“We’re competitive,” he said. “Of course, we’re disappointed. But we don’t have time to be disappointed because lots of other companies are knocking our door right now.”
“The ball didn’t bounce our way this time, but we’re going to keep working hard, and we’re going to keep winning,” Petroskey added.
Petroskey’s praise for Dallas is not mere PR puffery. It is rooted in the fact that the metro’s stellar growth over the last 10 years enabled DFW to go up against the best of the best in the nation and walk away with its head held high.
The metro has been expanding more rapidly than most other metros in the U.S. and is nearly universally viewed as a city on the cusp of becoming a globally recognized city.
Few know this better than the men and women who have been shaping this city for decades.
We talked to a number of them and asked them for their reaction to the news. Here are some of their responses:
“I am not surprised DFW was not Amazon’s final choice. DFW would have been a great choice for them, but DFW will continue to thrive; our future is bright. In many ways, I think we are better off not being chosen. We have had so much growth and will continue to. Absorbing such a large relocation could have stressed our infrastructure to a point of frustration for the citizens,” Bill Cawley, chairman and CEO of Cawley Partners told D CEO.
Founder of Altschuler Co., Jon Altschuler, told D CEO that Dallas-Fort Worth needs to, “keep getting better. Make the workforce smarter, and make it easier for workers to get around. Improve early education and K-12 education in our public schools, and enhance public transit. These two focuses will be force multipliers.”
“More corporations will continue to move to DFW. If anything, the attention that Amazon brought to DFW on a world scale will add extra fuel to an already hot fire and help DFW to reach additional companies…. The momentum has only begun to build. The thing that DFW could not change for Amazon was governmental. One of Amazon’s greatest threats is political, and by being in D.C., they can hopefully keep a pulse on it. But they realized that 50,000 jobs might be a little much for one city, so they picked two [cities],” managing director of Whitebox Real Estate Grant Pruitt told D CEO.
Linda McMahon, director of The Real Estate Council, was instrumental in pulling together Dallas-Fort Worth’s bid. This is what she had to say about the loss:
“While I am disappointed at losing – the process was nothing short of an exercise in collaboration and cooperation among all of the cities and their economic development organizations and chambers as well as competing developers…. It was an amazing experience, which showed that North Texas and Dallas have a great story to tell…. Dallas is going to be just fine without HQ2–even though Amazon has a significant presence with thousands of employees in North Texas already. We have to be extremely proud of the work that was done by all of the commercial real estate development community who worked tirelessly in presenting our community as the can-do and collaborative city that we are. With this out of the way, other companies from around the globe are now seeing what we can do for them. What this showed me is that I would rather be in Dallas, Texas, than any other metro area in the country. We make things happen,” McMahon said.